RTF and Android woes

Android doesn’t support the RTF formats.

I never knew this. Seriously, I never knew.

I decided I could get more writing done if I wrote on my phone while away from my computer. DropBox would let me keep things synced so I don’t have to type anything over again. I could gain some of the hours I spend reading on my kindle (I take it everywhere and whip it out whenever I have a free moment) and instead just write on the phone.

I can write a few hundred words on my phone – I have done it before for friday flash and other short stories – and an extra hundred words sound so good!

So I install DropBox on my phone, link my Scrivener to DropBox. Well, I link the RTF file Scrivener produces when you compile. (I have windows Scrivener, which is quite incapable of linking automatically to DropBox.)

But than I found that Android can’t open RTF files. That is to say, Android won’t open it cleanly. The file is filled other text. It looks formatting text, but nothing that I am interested in. Certainly nothing I can use to write.

I thought mobile OpenOffice would surely open RTF files. It doesn’t. That is not to say there aren’t other apps that will open RTF files. There are. But they are all readers; there is noting that will let me edit RTF files. Which makes writing on the phone impossible.

I tried several other things:

1) coping and pasting the text from a read-only app to another app. This isn’t worth the time it takes.

2) changing the extension to DOC to see if OpenOffice could read it. No joy.

3) searching the android app store for other apps. Found one: OfficeSuite Pro. But it requires call read permission, which is a no go. A word processing app so does not need to know monitor my phone calls. It needs to know nothing related to my phone state and identity. It isn’t the app’s business.

So writing on the phone and keeping things synced is a no go. Sucks. Really really sucks.

I am going to have change the compiled file into a DOC file before syncing with DropBox. It sucks. It should work better than this.

RTF is supposed to be the format every single word processor can open. I am really disappointed with Android.



21 thoughts on “RTF and Android woes

  1. I type all of my work directly into Evernote on my phone, and then when I open the program on my laptop, there it is! It’s quite easy and it means you don’t have to save an actual file on your phone.

  2. Have you tried ThinkFree? That might help you with the RTF files but I’m not sure. I do know that you can transfer the Android documents from that app to your computer or email them to yourself. I also sIcy’s recommendation for Google Drive. There is an app for Google Drive that may be of use to you and Evernote is also worth a try as well.

    By the way, it’s about time that I tell you that am sooo digging your new blog design. It rocks!

  3. I’m as disappointed and mystified as you are. I work in Atlantis which is an excellent word processor with .rtf as its native file format. I too have dumped it into Dropbox but then couldn’t retrieve it on my Android tablet. I did some research and found that the .rtf format belongs to Microsoft which they created (or bought) for their simple word processor, Wordpad. It really had no other life except that now many writing tools also use this format. It’s a problem with Android, or rather the Android app creators. Perhaps they need to buy publishing rights from Microsoft or something and there really isn’t a big enough market to justify it. The app world is driven by the gamers and if it isn’t a game or won’t play games it probably won’t be done. We can keep looking but so far there isn’t a solution now or on the horizon. How are you at programming an app for it. I would gladly buy it.

  4. This was the beginning of my decision to dump all things Android. A company with the cash and coding power of Google can handle this trivially; that they don’t bother tells me what they think of me as a user. Apple may condescend and restrict, but at least the stuff usually works. Next stop for me, the limited, expensive but actually functional iphone. I’m hoping the new Blackberry takes off — the market needs a 3rd, business and productivity oriented option.

  5. iPhone, as of now (March 10, 2013) ) doesn’t have an working option, either. Rich Text app (with in-app purchase for Formatting Kit) has no way of opening rtf files from Dropbox. Only way to edit an rtf file is actually to create an rtf within Rich Text app. Can’t even open from Dropbox with “Open In…”. What Rich Text can do is creating an rtf file in it, then opening it in another app.

    iPad, has Textilus which works better. But then you have to have an iPad. But that seems to be the best option to sync with Scrivener.

      1. No, actually, iOS has a GREAT app, called Textilus. Try it out. I found this thread because I just ditched my iphone for other reasons, and can’t believe that there isn’t an .rtf solution. ARGH.

  6. yeah ok, me too.
    Scrivener on mac, dropbox, Galaxy tab with Apple bluetooth keyboard… shoullb be the ideal setup for the ongoing great novel but I can’t edit the? !@@, rtf files on the tab. WT actual F? I can, t believe this and it’s transformed me into some illiterate textifiying thumbtyper sat sitting ignoring companions and ranting…

  7. I understand your pain. I finally got it all worked out to my own satisfaction.
    I use a PC with Windows 7, the 32 bit version. I have an Acer A500 tablet running Android 4 and have had no trouble using the tools mentioned here.
    I make extensive use of my Dropbox account for all my writing and other projects. I do most of my article and book writing in Atlantis Word Processor from England because it has RTF as its native file format, a much simpler and without bloated files. But it easily reads any Word .doc, .docx, OpenOffice .odt, and others. It has much of the same features as word but IMO they are better arranged and controlled. The Styles tool is particularly easy. It lacks some things so I use my old Word 2003 for those projects.
    I then store these files in the Dropbox folder on my PC. Then later I only write from that folder so it constantly syncs to the cloud version. Then I can open the Dropbox from my Acer Android tablet and open the file in my Android word processor. I had to do some research and trial-and-error before I found the right program app. I use TextMaker from SoftMaker from which I first downloaded the free trial version then liked it so much I paid the US$30 to get the registered version. Best choice I ever made.
    TextMaker on my tablet will read all my PDF files besides the RTF, DOC, DOCX, and others. It took some getting used to and had a steep learning curve but it has a rich set of editing tools so I can use for adding changes to the file. When I save it, it is automatically synced back to my PC where I can open it and see my changes and additions. I sometimes use the highlight feature to color some parts in yellow so I will later see what I did and also where I need to work more on the PC.
    That’s how I worked it out for

  8. Finally solved it at my end, too, using officesuite pro which works very well, though the text “handles” for editing are annoyingly fiddly.
    Taken a cue from previous post and I’ve just installed TextMaker. I’ll fly it round the block for a few days and get back with my conclusions.
    After only 10 minutes I suspect I _may_ prefer it to the OS pro, though I really hate the tiny unlabelled icons on the tootle bar

    Oh – I paid for Androidoffice or somesuch POC as it advertised itself as handling rtf files. It won’t even open the Scrivener exports which TextMaker and OS Pro certainly do. Still trying to get ’em to refund but they/he has gone all quiet on me.


  9. Excellent thread, thank you! As a result of the comments here, I downloaded Textmaker. It’s not as pretty as the office suite I had been using on my Andoid, but it actually works, and integrates beautifully with my Scriver files in Dropbox! Yippee!

  10. Most of you fail to understand just how deeply strange this particular work is. RTF is one of the oldest and simplest open text formats. Dating back at least to Windows 3.11. The markup up handles font changes, color changes, bold, italic, underline, center, and possibly strike through, word wrap, bullet list, and justification.
    None of the fancier things, like columns, tables, and embedded images. Failure to create and edit this extremely simple formatting is confusing. The additional failure to be able to at least read the format without 3rd party apps is absurd. Apparently, the push for a standard open document file format was so strong that the preexisting open file format was it neglected. During RTF’s early life, the only other text markups were proprietary. (Word, Word Perfect, and the like.)

  11. Hey Sonia,

    Having had the *exact* same issue as you, I took matters into my own hands. Markdown seemed to be a popular writer app format on the Android, so I worked out a way around this issue.

    I’ve made a RTF to Markdown file converter (and vicaversa) that I can use on my Dropbox and run from my Mac (Mac OSx only, sorry). That way, I sync with Scrivener to Dropbox, run the converter and then edit the files as Markdown on my phone.

    I save them back to Dropbox. When I get home, I run the Markdown to RTF converter and then resync and *bam*, I’ve got my RTF formats imported into Scrivener.

    The files are command line, but self-explanatory. If you want to convert from Markdown to RTF, you open Terminal and go to your local Dropbox folder and type md2rtf *.md

    That converts all the files in the directory with the .md extension. Make sure your auto syncing with Dropbox or you’ll have to manually re-sync everytime afterwards.

    Here’s the link to my blog post with the files:

    1. Try MobiSystems OffIce Suite (current version 7) . Free on Google Play. Full edit of rtfs on AndroId (among other things.)

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